This pre–Turkey Day ritual, held near the American Museum of Natural History, has become almost as crowded as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but we prefer it to the main event. Why? We prefer to weave through the crowds, walking past the inflation stations to see Kermit the Frog, Julius the Paul Frank monkey, Sonic the Hedgehog, Buzz Lightyear et al. at our own pace. Inflation takes place from 3 to 10pm. Arrive later in the evening, when the gigantic characters have taken shape; the crowds are at their peak, so you can also show off the famed New York sidewalk shuffle. Enter at W 79th St at Columbus Ave.
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